Here is a bonus post. It contains an annotated bibliography. – FSS
Bane, Colin. “Street League Partners with Nike.” X Games. ESPN, 13 Apr. 2013. Web. 24 Nov. 2013. <http://xgames.espn.go.com/skateboarding/article/9166164/nike-sb-becomes-premiere-sponsor-street-league-three-years>. This is an article about how the Street League Skateboarding Competition is now primarily sponsored by Nike. This article was helpful because it told that with Nike’s corporate backing, more money could be used to expand the competition internationally.
The Berrics – FOOTNOTES. Perf. Paul Rodriguez. The Berrics. Youtube, 31 Dec. 2012. Web. 24 Nov. 2013. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=NxWsVA3w4eY>. A video of Paul Rodriguez discussing on why he switched shoe sponsors from eS Footwear to Nike. This video is of Paul telling his story about leaving eS and how excited and thrilled he was to join Nike. This video was a good source because it gave me insight to Paul’s relationship with Nike.
“Carlsbad Skatepark Memorial.” Carlsbad Skatepark Memorial. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Dec. 2013. <http://www.carlsbadskatepark.org/history/>. This is a website dedicated to one of the first skatepark’s in America. Gives a description of the layout of the first park as well as offering a visual history of the park. Unfortunately, the park was converted into an industrial park in 2005. This source gave me a great history of the first skatepark in Carlsbad, and the visual history was appealing.
Eisenhour, Mackenize. “10 Most Influential Tricks Of All Time.” Transworld Skateboarding RSS. Transworld Media, 9 Jan. 2012. Web. 11 Dec. 2013. <http://skateboarding.transworld.net/1000151116/features/10-most-influential-tricks-of-all-time/>. This is an article about the ten greatest influential tricks. This top ten list gives a history from Tony Alva and the frontside air, to Alan Gelfund’s Ollie and the numerous tricks that Rodney Mullen invented. This shows how different tricks influenced the next ones and how progression is fueled by innovation.
Gomez, Brandon. “How Did Nike Get the Swoosh into Skateboarding? A Study of Authenticity and Nike SB.” Thesis. Syracuse University, 2012. 1 Aug. 2012. Web. 21 Nov. 2013. <http://surface.syr.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1002&context=ms_thesis>. This is a well-written thesis about how Nike became legitimate in skateboarding culture. Gives a rich history of Nike and skateboarding, studies subcultures within skateboarding and even conducts research about Nike in Skateboarding by conducting surveys and analyzing sale records from Skatepark of Tampa.
“Information.” Lakai Limited Footwear The Shoes We Skate. Crailtap, n.d. Web. 03 Dec. 2013. <http://lakai.com/information/>. Information about the history of Lakai Footwear as well as the contact information and FAQ section. I used this primarily to get the background on the company.
Johnson, Marc. “The Marc Johnson Interview.” Interview by Ian Michna. Jenkem Magazine. Jenkem, 16 July 2013. Web. 5 Dec. 2013. <http://www.jenkemmag.com/home/2013/07/16/the-marc-johnson-interview/>. Awesome interview with Marc Johnson that inspired this paper. This interview gives a great insight into the current state of skateboarding as well as the business tactics that Nike uses on skateshops that want to carry their shoes. The interview also tells how skate shoe companies had to revamp their tactics to compete with Nike. Extremely helpful with writing this paper.
Lurper. “HOW CORPORATIONS ARE CHANGING SKATEBOARDING AND WHY IT MATTERS.” Jenkem Magazine. Jenkem, 26 Nov. 2012. Web. 05 Dec. 2013. A well-written article about the influx of corporations buying skate brands and completely overhauling what they used to be so that they are more corporately structured. Also introduced me to the idea of McDonaldization and how these corporations are using the idea to streamline the skate companies they owned. It really details how corporations are changing the economics of skateboarding.
The Man Who $ouled the World. Dir. Mike Hill. Perf. Steve Rocco. Whyte House Productions, 2007. DVD. Youtube. Youtube, 27 May 2013. Web. 21 Nov. 2013. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-YOSTuhx0E>. The documentary of Steve Rocco and the brand he created, World Industries, and how he set out to fight against the corporations and won. Gave an indepth look at the first rebellion against corporate influx in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. Featuring commentary by Steve, Rodney Mullen and all those involved with World Industries and discusses the creation of World and how the brand revolutionized skateboarding.
“McDonaldization.com – What Is It?” McDonaldization.com – What Is It? McDonaldization, n.d. Web. 03 Dec. 2013. Helpful definition and explanation of what McDonaldization is.
Nieratko, Chris. “Jeff Grosso Has a Beautiful Mind.” VICE. Vice, n.d. Web. 11 Dec. 2013. <http://www.vice.com/read/jeff-grosso-has-a-beautiful-mind>. This is Chris Nieratko’s explanation of Nike and how it kicked off a rider for using Nike money to purchase marijuana.
Nike, Inc. “1997 Skateboarding Commercial.” YouTube. YouTube, 25 June 2009. Web. 21 Nov. 2013. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xvxpmx8Cqxo>. One of Nike’s first commercials after it tried to enter the skateboarding market in the middle of the 1990’s. It features the tagline “What if we treated all athletes the way we treated skateboarders?”
Radtke, Fritz. “Most Popular and Era-Defining Skateshoes Of the Last 30 Years Part 1.” Highsnobiety. N.p., 18 Oct. 2012. Web. 05 Dec. 2013. <http://www.highsnobiety.com/2012/10/18/most-popular-and-era-defining-skateshoes-of-the-last-30-years-part-1/>. A list of the most popular skateboarding shoes of all time. This list spans from skateboarding’s creation in the 1960’s to the skateboarding footwear of today
Ripped Laces. “What’s It Worth? Nike Hybred Boot Review.” Ripped Laces. Ripped Laces, 6 May 2013. Web. 11 Dec. 2013. <http://www.rippedlaces.com/2013/05/whats-it-worth-nike-hybred-boot-review/>.
Rocco, Steve, Rodney Mullen, and Scott Drouillard. “World Industries Rules.” Interview by Transworld Media. Transworld Business. Transworld Media, 26 May 2000. Web. 21 Nov. 2013. <http://business.transworld.net/4084/uncategorized/world-industries-rules/>. An interview between Steve Rocco, Rodney Mullen and Scott Drouillard about World Industries history and business tactics. This interview gives great insight into the inner workings of World and what it takes to run a company.
“Savier Shoes.” Skately. Skately, n.d. Web. 21 Nov. 2013. <http://skately.com/library/brands/savier-shoes>. A brief history of the Savier shoes brand. Includes a history, past advertisements, samples of shoes put out by Savier and past team riders.
The Sources. Every source listed here has been cited at least once in this paper. -FSS
Bane, Colin. “Street League Partners with Nike.” X Games. ESPN, 13 Apr. 2013. Web. 24 Nov. 2013. <http://xgames.espn.go.com/skateboarding/article/9166164/nike-sb-becomes-premiere-sponsor-street-league-three-years>.
The Berrics – FOOTNOTES. Perf. Paul Rodriguez. The Berrics. Youtube, 31 Dec. 2012. Web. 24 Nov. 2013. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=NxWsVA3w4eY>.
“Carlsbad Skatepark Memorial.” Carlsbad Skatepark Memorial. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Dec. 2013. <http://www.carlsbadskatepark.org/history/>.
Eisenhour, Mackenize. “10 Most Influential Tricks Of All Time.” Transworld Skateboarding RSS. Transworld Media, 9 Jan. 2012. Web. 11 Dec. 2013. <http://skateboarding.transworld.net/1000151116/features/10-most-influential-tricks-of-all-time/>.
Gomez, Brandon. “How Did Nike Get the Swoosh into Skateboarding? A Study of Authenticity and Nike SB.” Thesis. Syracuse University, 2012. 1 Aug. 2012. Web. 21 Nov. 2013. <http://surface.syr.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1002&context=ms_thesis>.
“Information.” Lakai Limited Footwear The Shoes We Skate. Crailtap, n.d. Web. 03 Dec. 2013. <http://lakai.com/information/>.
Johnson, Marc. “The Marc Johnson Interview.” Interview by Ian Michna. Jenkem Magazine. Jenkem, n.d. Web. 5 Dec. 2013. <http://www.jenkemmag.com/home/2013/07/16/the-marc-johnson-interview/>.
Lurper. “HOW CORPORATIONS ARE CHANGING SKATEBOARDING AND WHY IT MATTERS.” Jenkem Magazine. Jenkem, 26 Nov. 2012. Web. 05 Dec. 2013.
The Man Who $ouled the World. Dir. Mike Hill. Perf. Steve Rocco. Whyte House Productions, 2007. DVD. Youtube. Youtube, 27 May 2013. Web. 21 Nov. 2013. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-YOSTuhx0E>.
“McDonaldization.com – What Is It?” McDonaldization.com – What Is It? McDonaldization, n.d. Web. 03 Dec. 2013.
Nieratko, Chris. “Jeff Grosso Has a Beautiful Mind.” VICE. Vice, n.d. Web. 11 Dec. 2013. <http://www.vice.com/read/jeff-grosso-has-a-beautiful-mind>.
Nike, Inc. “1997 Skateboarding Commercial.” YouTube. YouTube, 25 June 2009. Web. 21 Nov. 2013. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xvxpmx8Cqxo>.
Radtke, Fritz. “Most Popular and Era-Defining Skateshoes Of the Last 30 Years Part 1.” Highsnobiety. N.p., 18 Oct. 2012. Web. 05 Dec. 2013.
Ripped Laces. “What’s It Worth? Nike Hybred Boot Review.” Ripped Laces. Ripped Laces, 6 May 2013. Web. 11 Dec. 2013. <http://www.rippedlaces.com/2013/05/whats-it-worth-nike-hybred-boot-review/>.
Rocco, Steve, and Rodney Mullen. “World Industries Rules.” Interview by Transworld Media. Transworld Business. Transworld Media, 26 May 2000. Web. 21 Nov. 2013. <http://business.transworld.net/4084/uncategorized/world-industries-rules/>.
“Savier Shoes.” Skately. Skately, n.d. Web. 21 Nov. 2013. <http://skately.com/library/brands/savier-shoes>.
McDonaldization, the Maloof Money Cup and Hypocrisy. Quite a trifecta. This is the end of the paper. All sources to soon follow – FSS
Skate companies make skate shoes, big corporations make shoes that just happen to work as a skateboarding shoe. The truth is, many skateboarders were wearing Nike Jordan’s, the Adidas shell toe shoes and Converse All Stars before these companies established skate programs. “All though not intended for skateboarding, the Nike Air Jordan 1 quickly rose to great prominence among skaters during the mid-eighties, heavily influencing future skate sneaker designs…Quick to follow up on the success of the Air Jordan 1, Nike was already designing Jordan’s second pro model, its released scheduled for the upcoming 1986 NBA Season. In order to clear the stocks, the first pro model went on sale reducing its price by 50%, making it a bargain one could hardly resist. The high-top sneaker provided a snug fit, a paddled ankle support, a cushioned sole, and a reinforced Ollie pad, making it not only comfortable but also the most superior ‘skate shoe’ of its time” (HighSnobiety). Jordan’s, along with the Converse Chuck Taylor All Star and Nike Blazer provided what skateboarders needed at the time; ankle support, flexibility and durability. Due to their popularity in days of yesteryear, Nike SB has reissued shoes that skaters wore at the time. We now have Nike SB versions of the Bruin, Blazer, and the Nike Court Classic model. Even Converse is making skate-able versions of their Chuck Taylor and Julius Erving shoes. Adidas has revamped and re-released its Americana and Campus models. Many of the big, corporate companies are realizing how big their shoes were in skateboarding many years ago and are now redoing and reintroducing old models and selling them to a new generation for over seventy dollars apiece
Nike is sold in many skateboard shops across the country, as well as around the world. Skate shops have entire walls dedicated to Nike and Nike has even collaborated with some shops such as Skatepark of Tampa, Uprise Skateshop and New Jersey Skateshop and created special color ways of the Dunk specifically for the shops. Nike and the Skatepark of Tampa recently released a version of the Dunk Low that was in celebration of the Skatepark’s twentieth year of operation. All of this would be fine, had Nike not had some of the shadiest business practice ever encountered. Marc Johnson gave the interview of the year over at Jenkem Magazine. He exposed how corporations do business, and why their practices are evil. “Big Company has a policy where if a skateshop wants to carry that ONE shoe that everyone wants, the skateshop is forced to carry ALL of their shoes. FORCED to carry all of their shoes. When those shoes don’t sell, the skateshop goes into debt and that debt gets bigger and bigger until the skateshop goes out of business. Your local shop owes Big Company a lot of money and must continue to sell the popular shoe just to pay their bills, and then they go even deeper into debt because the other Big Company shoes don’t sell at all. No one wants them. But skateshop is forced to carry those shoes too in order to be able to sell the one popular shoe. And now, skateshop doesn’t even have a choice about what they order. Shoes just randomly show up at the shop, and now skateshop owes Big Company money for product they didn’t even order” (Jenkem Interview). What Nike does is that when a shop wants to carry one of the best shelling shoes at the moment, the Janoski model, they also have to agree to sell other models that may not sell. When the shoes do not sell at full price, the shoes are forced to be discounted to the point where only Nike makes money on the shoes. This causes the skate shop to go into deeper debt, and if it cannot be overcome, the skate shop is forced to close down. When skate companies like Lakai do business, they allow the shops to pick and choose which models they want to carry and everyone benefits from it.
The progress of Nike in skateboarding can be best described as a McDonaldization. McDonaldization is term coined by sociologist George Ritzer. “The process of McDonaldization takes a task and breaks it down into smaller tasks. This is repeated until all tasks have been broken down to the smallest possible level. The resulting tasks are then rationalized to find the single most efficient method for completing each task. All other methods are then deemed inefficient and discarded” (McDonaldization Website). The term “McDonaldization” was introduced to me in a Jenkem article titled, Why corporations are changing Skateboarding and Why It Matters. The process of McDonaldization is breaking down tasks to their basics and discarding the tasks that are inefficient and therefore are creating a business that runs smoothly, without much waste. This is entirely the opposite of skateboarding. Skateboarding is a wild beast. Trends start and die almost daily. “Instead of inefficiently, creatively, and collaboratively creating skate videos, skaters will efficiently and competitively enter into the highly predictable, standardized, quantifiable, and controllable world of mega-contests. In this social-world, there is no time for a skater to push himself spending hours trying to land a trick, because it is inefficient. There is little room for creativity (i.e. no backside 50-50 finger-flip) because, “it isn’t good strategy.” And there is no reason to seek out new skate spots as it more efficient for all skate contests to take place in the same stylized spaces. Whether you are in Gilbert or Toronto you can watch Chaz Ortiz jump down the exact same 10 stair. If corporate skating begins to dominate there will be little room left for the skating that Louie Barletta, Chris “Mango” Milic, or Jeff Stevens do, there will only be room for the (amazing, but) standardized and predictable skating of Greg Lutzka, Ryan Sheckler, and Nyjah Houston”(Jenkem Mag). What Jenkem means is that if skateboarding does go the way of McDonaldization, then style and originality will die. If skateboarding becomes this well-oiled machine, nothing new will be tried and skateboarding will move from the unpredictable streets to the safe, climate controlled stadiums and indoor parks where everything can be regulated. Robotic styles will be more acceptable than innovations and just “going for it”. It creates an unwanted desire for skateboarders to “win”. No one truly wins at skateboarding. Sure, some skateboarders are taking first place in contests and winning huge cash prizes, but money and places are meaningless in terms of legitimacy.
The Maloof Money Cup is a skateboarding competition whose first place purse is worth a half of a million dollars. The Maloof family is extremely wealthy and is one of the largest shareholders in Wells Fargo Bank. “And we are all amazed that the Maloofs are willing to put up a $500,000 cash prize, when in reality $500,000 is nothing when we consider the facts that the Maloof family is worth approximately 1 billion! 500k is 1/2000 of their net worth. This is the same as if the average American family (net worth 77k) was to “give away” $15 ( I put give away in quotes since the Maloofs profit off the Money Cup and do not lose money)” (Jenkem Mag). When the Maloof’s hold a contest for skateboarding, they build an entire skatepark specifically for the contest using influences from the most famous skate spots in the world. In 2010, the Maloof Money Cup was held in Queens, New York. Upon the conclusion of the event, the Maloof’s donated the entire skatepark to the city of Queens.
Nike’s ego in skateboarding has grown to unheard of levels. Earlier in 2013, Nike kicked off well-respected skateboarder Peter Hewitt for admitting in an interview with Chris Nieratko of Vice Magazine that he had in fact purchased marijuana using money given to him by Nike. “Recently a manufacturer of basketball, wrestling, and golf shoes decided to open its fucking mouth and tell their skateboarding division that one of their riders was acting too much like a skateboarder and not enough like a role model a la Kobe Bryant, Tiger Woods, or Lance Armstrong. In an interview with me the rider talked about buying (medicinal) marijuana and also shared some great poop stories from when he was a teenager some 25-plus years ago. Well, someone high up in the corporation took offense to this and had the skater fired immediately. His main source of income snatched away” (Nieratko). This is insane to learn, that Nike kicked off Hewitt due to him buying and smoking marijuana. In the mid-nineties, Hewitt was even sponsored by a company that made bongs. Marijuana and skateboarding are old friends, if Nike miraculously did not know this, then they are incredibly oblivious. This appears hypocritical on Nike’s behalf. Every so often, Nike releases special named colorways that often revolve around a theme. As mentioned earlier in this paper, Nike has released colorways for Skatepark of Tampa’s twentieth year of operation; a Fourth of July inspired set of shoes and even did a color way for team rider Paul Rodriguez’s own skate shop, Primitive. Along with these, Nike has also released shoes that were inspired by marijuana and marijuana culture. Nike released a shoe in 2011 that was inspired by the stoner comedians Cheech and Chong. On April 20, 2011, Nike also released a quick strike shoe called the skunk. This shoe is a high top version of the Nike dunk with green suede and a purple swoosh. The shoe is called the “skunk” because skunk is a slang term for a type of marijuana, and the fact that the smoke from marijuana smells like a skunks spray. Many of their current team riders smoke marijuana as well. For Nike to kick Hewitt off for buying marijuana with some money he earned by riding for them, but keeping Kobe Bryant on the team after he was accused of rape in Colorado or Tiger Woods after he confessed to be a sex addict and constantly cheated on his wife is incredibly hypocritical. Chris Nieratko says, “The culture of skateboarding is what we are about. And that culture must be preserved. So when we as a skateboarding community allow these visiting corporations to dictate our code of conduct, things have gone too far. It might be an idealist way to look at things, but I don’t think the guy with the most money should get to decide what we are and aren’t allowed to say and do.” Nike may have all this money and corporate backing, but they are still infants in the skate world. Nike cannot dictate what is said or done by skateboarders. Skateboarding cannot be tamed or confined. We are not the posh and proper “athletes” like that ones who wear their basketball shoes or hockey skates.
In conclusion, Nike is a humongous corporation who is simply doing business in skateboarding to make money. Nike tried on numerous occasions throughout the nineties to enter the skateboarding market, but its attempts were futile. Nike finally broke through the barrier when it acquired Savier Footwear and put all of the technology from its other footwear models into skate shoes. Seeing their popularity rise, Nike used the original Savier team to create Nike SB. Nike began re-releasing shoes that skateboarders wore in the 1980’s and 1990’s, such as the Blazer, the Dunk and the Bruin. As the acceptance of Nike grew due to its signings of top skateboarders such as Paul Rodriguez, Justin Brock and Lance Mountain; more and more shops started carrying Nike. With their big, corporate backing and deep pockets Nike has been able to seen as the only company shops need to support themselves. However, as learned in the Marc Johnson interview, this can also lead to crippling debt and cause skateboarding shops to close down. After many years of playing by our rules, Nike has decided to get all uppity and decided to start dictating what, when, where, why and how instead of following skaters advice and opinions. Nike is so determined to be the definition of skateboarding, like it is with running shoes and basketball sneakers, that it is blinded from the fact that skateboarding was perfectly fine and thriving without it. Nike does not put skateboarding first, unlike Lakai, Emerica and Vans. Vans maybe owned by VF Corp, but skateboarding is still driving force behind the brand. Nike is bad for skateboarding. Nike is bad for skateboarding, and I hope I have presented enough facts to back up that statement. Support those who support you.
I hope you enjoyed that history. Here is from the early 90’s to the 2000’s. Also features some insight as to why more money spent on footwear does not necessarily reflect the quality of the product -FSS
In the middle of the 1990’s, mega corporations were seeing the growing success of World Industries and Blind Skateboards and they too wanted a piece of the skateboarding pie. World and Blind were #1 and #2 in skateboard sales. It was about this time that Nike Footwear, long time creator of basketball and running shoes and a multi-billion dollar company, tried to climb its way into the market. Nike released a commercial in 1997 with the tag line, What if we treated all athletes the way we treat skateboarders? The commercial showed people in jogging, but they were being disrespected and chastised as skateboarders were at this time. The whole video is using running and jogging as a euphemism for skateboarding. At the end of the video, a very young Bam Margera performs a kickflip with a Nike Swoosh following him across the screen. The initial response from skateboarding to Nike trying to enter the industry was met with backlash. “Unfortunately for Nike, although these clever ads did receive a lot of attention, Nike shoes simply did not meet the criteria for skateboarders. In a review of Nike by Dave Carnie in Big Brother Magazine, he described the soles as too thick and simply concluded that, ‘their shoes suck’”(Gomez 9). Nike skate shoes could not match up to the quality of the heavyweights at the time. Companies like Emerica, éS, Airwalk and DC Shoes were making footwear that was specifically designed to handle the abuse of skateboarding. With shoddy designs and a lack of support, Nike began to back out of the skateboard industry. However, Nike tried one more time to enter the skateboarding market. In 2000, Nike purchased Savier Footwear, which was a small skateboarding footwear company located in Portland, OR. According to skately.com, “although Savier was an independent subsidiary of Nike, the brand had unlimited access to Nike’s footwear materials and production, which lead to some amazing and perplexing designs”. Initially riding for Savier were Brian Anderson, young prodigy Paul Rodriguez Jr., Brad Staba, Stefan Janoski, Shaun White and Tim O’Connor. Nike achieved success of carving a niche in the skateboard market; even though many who bought their shoes had no idea the money was lining Nike’s pockets.
A few years later in 2002, Nike dissolved Savier and took a majority of the riders and formed their own line of skateboarding footwear. Called Nike SB, the original team consisted of Danny Supa, Gino Iannucci, Richard Mulder and Reese Forbes as well as those who were riding for Savier at the time of Nike SB’s launch. “[Sandy] Boedecker (Nike SB Vice President at the Time) felt that Nike’s initial success relied on three crucial factors: Nike had to commit to the project for at least five years, involved skateboarders in the design processes, and reissue the Nike Dunk shoe model” (Gomez 10). Nike’s new approach to skateboarding was paramount to its newfound success in a market that it could not quite carve a niche in. Nike began collaborating with big name companies at the time in skateboarding; like Danny Supa’s skateboard deck sponsor Zoo York and Gino Iannucci’s skateboard deck sponsor Chocolate Skateboards. In order to try and build credibility, Nike began selling its SB line exclusively in skate shops, instead of in mall stores alongside its basketball shoes and running cleats. Nike also began releasing a series of extremely limited color ways, called Quickstrikes. These Quickstrikes would be released in small quantities in skateshops across the country. Some of these shoes had named color ways like the Heineken’s after the beer and the Supremes’, named after the street wear company in New York. In 2004, Nike SB signed Paul Rodriguez Jr. to their professional skateboarding team. Being one of the young prodigy’s of skateboarding at the time, many people were shocked by Paul leaving the skateboarder owned and run éS Footwear for the big corporation of Nike. In an interview with skateboarding website The Berrics, Paul says, “The transition from éS to Nike was – after I got through making the phone call – I had to call Koston; I had to call, you know, Tony [Evjenth] at éS; had to call a few people ‘cause we were close; we were good family over there. So, after I got through that hard part, and I could just, and I was free of that burden, then when I got on Nike, it was just, like, the world was opened up – it was insane.” In 2005, Nike released Paul’s signature shoe called the Nike Paul Rodriguez signature model. This was a huge undertaking not just for the skateboard world, but also for Nike. Before Paul Rodriguez, only the likes of athletes such as Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods have had signature shoes released by Nike. Nike had never before released a professional model specifically for skateboarding.
In more recent years, the popularity of Nike in skateboarding has exploded. Nike is carried in a majority of skate shops across the United States as well as those internationally. Nike now sells several different shoes as well as numerous color ways. Former Savier team riders Stefan Janoski and Brian Anderson have been absorbed into Nike SB, and both now have professional model shoes. All-terrain ripper Omar Salazar and skateboarding legend Eric Koston have both released two pro models apiece. Their team contains some of the youngest and best skateboarders in the game such as Sean Malto, 2011 Thrasher Skater of the Year Grant Taylor, Justin Brock and skateboarding legends Lance Mountain and original team member Gino Iannucci. Nike has been the chief sponsor of both the Tampa AM and Tampa Pro contests since 2011. Nike has also become the head sponsor for the Street League traveling skateboarding league and contests. “‘Our discussions with Nike SB came about as our deal with DC was expiring,’ said Brian Atlas, general manager of Street League Skateboarding. ‘After collaborative discussions evolved, it was clear that their vision for skateboarding competition was truly aligned with ours and ultimately proved to be the best opportunity for evolving Street League and elevating our tour’(Bane). Street League is now funded using Nike money. Street League is the first step, taken by Rob Dyrdek of Rob and Big and The Fantasy Factory fame, to turn skateboarding into a professional sport. Street League is a traveling skateboard competition that has gone all over the continental United States as well as foreign countries like Spain and South Africa. The contest is frequently broadcasted on ESPN and is seen by millions of people in countries around the world. The course is built with rails, stair-sets and huge gaps for the skateboarders to try and land the most insane tricks that they can for points. The skateboarder with the most points wins. At the end of the several competitions, featuring one at the popular X-Games, a champion is crowned and this person wins upwards of $200,000. This all sounds nice, but skateboarding is not measured by points and huge first place winnings. There is an old saying, “He who has the most fun, wins”. You don’t skateboard for recognition or popularity. You skate for fun, you skate for yourself. Street League is taking skateboarding from its roots in the streets and back alleys and putting it on a pedestal.
Usually, when looking at the corporate structure of companies that manufacture skateboarding footwear, apparel or hard goods, you see names of skateboarders. That is not the case when it comes to the new influx of corporations stepping on toes and trying to get a piece of the skateboarding pie first. Not one president or chief-executive-officer of companies such as Nike, Converse and Adidas has ever stepped foot on a skateboard. However, companies such as Emerica and Lakai were founded and created by skateboarders. The owner of Emerica, Andrew Reynolds, was Thrasher Magazine’s Skater of the Year in 1998. Mike Carroll, the co-owner of Lakai, won the award in 1994. Companies like Emerica and Lakai are skateboarding first. All of their research and technology is geared towards skaters needs. Nike and Adidas on the other hand, are more focused on their lines of basketball shoes and hockey cleats. These companies figured that the technology used in creating Lebron James’ basketball shoe and Robert Griffin III’s football cleats is universal and could be used in creating the ultimate skate shoes. Unfortunately, this does not necessarily work. Towards the middle of 2013, Nike Skateboarding released a chukka inspired shoe called the Hybred Boot. The shoe was pretty basic looking; however the price for these shoes was $110. The folks at Ripped Laces, a website that tests and reviews all different types of skateboarding product, wanted to test the idea that if you pay a higher price for skate shoes, you are therefore getting a better quality product in return. “As much as people may hate highwater pants, yo flips (or the “trenihanna”), and straight-to-the-web skatepark montages, there’s one recent trend in skateboarding that has the potential to stand the tests of time: innovation and technology in shoes. Never before have shoe companies been able to combine comfort, board feel, durability, and good looks. Most companies have been stepping their game up, and shoes like Supra’s Skytop 3, Lakai’s Guy XLK, and Emericas G6 have all been getting stellar reviews to justify their higher-than-average price tags. This brings us to the Nike Hybred boot. Although the shoe looks basic enough, with approximately $110 in retail value, it’s one of the most expensive options you can find on your skate shop wall. The question is: can this basic-looking shoe withstand enough abuse to make it worth the price of a brand new complete” (Ripped Laces)? The Hybred boot was skated for three and a half weeks, with ten hours of skateboarding a week. The main question of the review was if the durability of the shoe will increase due to its staggering triple digit price. “The shoe skated great right out of the box, so it was a bit disheartening to realize that the sole wouldn’t last as long as the suede upper. The Hybred boot doesn’t have any unique features to keep the sole from losing tread so quickly, so the shoe sacrifices a long-lasting sole for comfort. While initially grippy, the sole was showing signs of wear after one week, and there was a noticeable decrease in flick after two weeks. Since the shoe is a cupsole, the sole is less sticky than a typical vulcanized shoe, which means the Hybred boot is essentially done when the tread pattern has totally worn out” (Ripped Laces). Based on the lack of durability in the sole of the shoe, the value seems to diminish. Skate shoes need a durable sole due to the harsh grit of griptape. “If the shoe’s grip was somewhat disheartening, than the shoe’s overall durability was a huge disappointment. I expected this $110 skate shoe to have more features to prolong the life of the shoe, but this was not the case. The suede on the shoe was average, so holes were forming by the second week of skating. Not only that, but the shoe’s upper is flush with the sole, meaning that a kickflip hole in the toe is expected and unfixable. The stitching on the side of the Hybred boot doesn’t have any hidden protection or reinforcements, so the side panel will totally wear through in weeks without super glue or Shoe Goo. And, as mentioned earlier, the shoe’s sole will be losing grip through this entire process. However, there were two features of the Hybred boot that I found interesting enough to mention. The mesh swoosh on the side of the shoe hardly had any damage after three weeks. I’m not sure if this is due to a lack of contact with griptape, or because of the material used to create it; however, what I expected to be the weak point of a shoe ended up being one of the strongest points. The second innovation I noticed was the stitching at the corner of the side panel. Rather than just using double stitching, the Hybred boot was designed with a spiral pattern at this high contact point, so there was much more fabric to break through. It certainly wasn’t enough to save the shoe, but it did allow me to skate the shoe for another week, at least” (Ripped Laces). Ripped Laces prove it: higher price does not necessarily equal a higher quality product. Just because a shoe has a high price tag, does not mean that the shoe is essentially better. This review must have made its way to Nike Headquarters because the price of the shoe has dropped. Some of Nike’s biggest sellers, Active Rideshop and CCS, have seen the price drop between fifty and forty percent. Even the Nike Store on its website lists the shoe for twenty dollars off. Research by Ripped Laces, as well as other skateboarders, proves that higher price does not reflect the quality in the product.
(This is my triumphant return, a several part chronicle on a term paper I wrote over the span of four months. It’s anti-Nike. Sources will be included.)
My paper is about how major corporations are bad for skateboarding. Currently, Nike is one of the most popular brands in all of skateboarding. This paper discusses how a corporation that specializes in hockey skates and basketball shoes became legitimate in the eyes of skateboarders. This paper analyzes interviews conducted with professional skateboarders and company owners and their opinions regarding corporations in skateboarding. This paper will find out as to why corporations are now welcomed in skateboarding and what does this mean for companies founded and owned by skateboarders. This paper gives skateboarders an inside look as to what corporate sponsors do to skateboarding and hopefully help them choose to support skater-owned companies.
Table of Contents
Introduction and Statement of Thesis
History of Skateboarding
World Industries and the first rebellion against Corporations
Nike’s first attempt to enter skateboarding Market and acquisition of Savier
Birth of Nike SB
Surge of Popularity
Corporate Structure and Price vs. Quality
Shoes used by Skateboarders in the 80’s
Nike’s Growth and Business Practices
Nike and McDonaldization
Maloof Money Cup and Huge Winnings
Nike’s new Attitude
Upon doing this research, I had only a small, vague idea about the effect of corporations in skateboarding. However, now I have learned a great deal. I have always supported companies such as Lakai and Emerica. Companies that put skateboarding first, above all of the other frivolous things. Nike is a company I cannot support. Suffocating business tactics and this, “I make the most money, so what I say goes” attitude is very unappealing. It’s a shame many kids are beginning to skateboard and are growing up with Nike shoes next to the Emerica ones. When I started skateboarding back some ten ought years ago, the world was a different place. I’d like to thank Ian and the writers at Jenkem Mag for insightful articles and interviews, Jeremy at Ripped Laces for doing outstanding reviews and skateboarders around the world. This is for you.
Skateboarding has always been seen as strange and mysterious to those not within our culture. The thought of launching oneself down a set of twenty stairs on a stick of wood eight inches wide and expecting to land cleanly on four 52 millimeter wide wheels and roll away would appear as morbid and completely shrouded in lunacy. Skateboarders have so often strived and lived on the fact that skateboarding was for skateboarders. At the turn of the millennium, skateboarding saw a strange emergence. The big corporation known as Nike began marketing a line of products towards skateboarders. This new market opened the door for other companies such as Converse and Adidas to begin manufacturing and marketing shoes specifically for skateboarding. This research will address how Nike got involved in the skateboarding industry, as well as the affect Nike has had on the skateboarding industry and how it uses its corporate greed to achieve its goals regardless of the consequences.
Skateboarding has a rich and vibrant history. Skateboarding was born in the decade of the 1940’s to 1950’s. Surfers were looking something that could be done when the oceans were flat, but also mimicked the feeling of surfing. Surfers began taking crate scooters and removing the handlebars, leaving just a plank attached to some wheels. In the 70’s, new technologies allowed skateboarding to continue growth. Special wheels made of polyurethane replaced the metal and clay wheels of yesteryear, special axels called trucks were invented to give skateboards better turning radius and skateboards were widened from skinny planks to upwards of ten inches, which gave the skateboarder more control. Skate parks sprung up across the country, the first ones being the Carlsbad Skatepark located in Carlsbad, CA and the Skateboarding City skate park located in Port Orange, FL. “The original Carlsbad Skatepark was built and opened to the public on March 13, 1976. The world’s first skateboard park, it was quickly followed by hundreds of newer parks across the globe. Within months of opening, Carlsbad’s bowls, snake runs, and moguls were overshadowed by newer parks that captured the changing styles of the dominant skaters of the day. Even so, Carlsbad Skatepark was the first ripple in the skate park wave that swept the world in the 1970s—a wave that re-emerged in the 1990s and continues today” (Carlsbad Skatepark Website). Newer and newer materials began to be incorporated in the design of skateboard product. New material such as fiberglass was used as a means of strengthening boards. Ball-bearings were improved to allow skateboarders to move faster. This new level of control and speed allowed tricks to evolve as well. Skateboarders were no longer limited to tricks on flat surfaces. Original Z-Boy Tony Alva is credited with doing the first air in a swimming pool during the drought of the 1970’s. “With an assist from George Orton, Tony Alva is credited with launching the first vertical aerial ever at the Dogbowl in Santa Monica in ’77. The frontside air changed everything, opening up endless new possibilities above the coping and beyond” (Eisenhour). In the 1980’s, tricks were seemingly invented overnight. Alan Gelfand is credited with doing the first ollie on a skateboard. Rodney Mullen single handed created a plethora of tricks that are still done by skateboarders today.
In the late 1980’s, Rodney Mullen, Mike Vallely and Steve Rocco founded World Industries skateboards. Steve is famously quoted in his documentary, The Man Who Souled the World, as saying “The industry has its own set of rules. They’re always like, ‘this has to be like this, this is going to be like this, skaters can only get a dollar a board and that’s the way it’s gotta be’. One of the, like, great tactics of war when you are going up against an opponent, if you read, like, The Art of War, you take the other guys rules and you break every one of them”. And that is how Steve ran his company. Steve stole team riders from other companies, he created graphics using pornographic images as well as graphics that glorified stereotypes, alcohol and drug abuse. At the time of World’s creation, skateboarding was primarily made up of five huge companies. These companies were skateboard makers Powell-Peralta, Vision, Santa Cruz as well as magazines such as Thrasher and Transworld. This period was called a “benevolent dictatorship” by Rich Novak in the Steve Rocco documentary. Rich was a founder and co-owner of Santa Cruz and Independent Trucks. This was a period of time where it was thought that skateboarders could not own skate companies. Rocco was told by Brad Dorfman, owner of Vision Street Wear and a multi-millionaire and Steve’s boss, that “skaters aren’t smart enough to do ads, or marketing, or know what other skaters want”. Rocco would go on to prove him wrong. Upon being fired from the Sims skateboard team, Steve met up with Skip Engblom, who was the creator of Santa Monica Airlines, another popular skateboarding team in the 1980’s. Skip told Rocco to cash out his credit card for as much money as he could get and meet him at a woodshop where Steve paid six-thousand dollars for five-hundred blank skateboards. Skip then told Rocco where he could get them screened with graphics. In a little over three weeks, Steve had sold all the boards and made twelve thousand dollars. Steve decided to start his company. He wanted to do it as a means of fighting against these big-name companies. He wanted to rule the industry. Steve is quoted in an interview with Transworld, saying, “We just wanted to do stuff and have fun with it. It was never a goal to be number one, to be the biggest distributor – to be anything” (Transworld Interview). Steve laid the groundwork for companies to be started because skateboarders just wanted to do what they wanted to do, regardless of who said what. Steve and Rodney named the company World Industries as a joke. The joke being that Rocco’s company was so tiny compared to the others. Rocco’s company eventually grew. Well-established professional skateboarders such as Natas Kaupas and Mark Gonzalez left their long time sponsors of Santa Cruz and Vision to create new companies under the Rocco tent; 101 Skateboards and Blind. Many professionals were sick of being told what to do and how to do them. Rocco paved the way for skateboarders to take back skateboarding from these massive, multi-million dollar companies (The Man Who Souled the World).
Until next time…
Right now, I am compiling research for an eight page paper on how corporations are harmful to skateboarding. The research is going well, considering I am learning new things that I did not know before. When completed, I plan on posting the entire research paper, along with the sources used, on here for you all to read. I’ve found out odd things, such as Rodney Mullen’s website not being run by Rodney Mullen or no way affiliated with him. Something else puzzling came up while I was researching companies that have no background in skateboarding, other than the fact skateboarders use their products, who have tried to piece together some sort of a team. I found out that Bob Burnquist is sponsored by the mexican restaurant Chipotle. I emailed their customer service department. Below is the email, word for word, I sent to Chipotle.
I noticed on Bob Burnquist’s website that he was sponsored by your company. I was wondering, how did this come to be and what are your intentions regarding the skateboarding market?
See, simple. I noticed that a big company like Chipotle has sponsored a skateboarder, which probably means Bob gets free burritos. I just wanted to know if they planned on creating a “Team Chipotle” , like Toyota did (Bob is sponsored by them too, which is another story).
No less than an hour later, I received and email back from Nathan Zackroff who works at P.R. for Chipotle. Again, here is the reply from Chipotle word-for-word.
Thanks for your interest in possibly partnering with us (you have a great last name for a skateboarder). I am going to send this along to our Sports Marketing guru for you so that if they are interested, they can reach out to you directly.
Thanks again for your interest and all the best!
Customer Service Consultant
Chipotle Mexican Grill
It appears Chipotle only skims emails for buzzwords and formulates responses based on them. In no way, shape, or form did I contact Chipotle about a partnership or a sponsorship. I wanted an answer about their intentions. I am also surprised that Chipotle has a “sports marketing guru” as well. The only silver lining and personality in this is that Nathan thinks I have “a great name for a skateboarder”. So thank you for that, and thank you for giving me the run-around, Chipotle.
Until Next Time…
Jerry Hsu left his long-time Sponsor, Enjoi, back in September. Prior to his long and illustrious career at Enjoi, Hsu was on the original Maple Skateboards team, along with Marc Johnson, Louie Barletta, Chad Bartie and Chad Knight.
He had a part in Maple’s 2000 video, Black Cat. Shortly, after this video dropped, Maple was disbanded. Marc Johnson enlisted Jerry, along with Rodney Mullen and Dave Mayhew (of the D3 Fame) to launch Enjoi Skateboards. Featuring many skateboarders from the Tiltmode Army, Enjoi was launched with great success. In 2000, Jerry joined the ranks at Osiris Footwear, and, in 2002, Jerry released his first signature shoe from Osiris Footwear, dubbed the Hsu.
In 2006, Enjoi dropped it’s highly anticipated video, Bag of Suck, featuring video parts from Jerry, Marc Johnson, Caswell Berry, Jason Adams, Clark Hassler, Jose Rojo and Louie Barletta. Jerry had the ender and the video won Transworld’s 2007 Video of the Year award, with Jerry taking the Readers Choice award as well.
Around the time of the video, Jerry released his second pro shoe from Osiris, named the Chino. It was also made into a low-top, dubbed the Chino Low.
After releasing the Chino, Jerry left Osiris in 2007 for the waters of Emerica, releasing a pro shoe with the company as well. The Mid-top, called the Hsu, is still one of the most popular shoes Emerica has released and continues to release new colorways every season. Jerry began filming for the widely acclaimed Emerica video, Stay Gold. Featuring parts from pro’s such as Brandon Westgate, Bryan Herman, Kevin Long, Aaron Suski, Braydon Szafranksi and the Boss, Andrew Reynolds, as well as AM’s such as Marquise Preston, Jamie Tancowny and Colin Provost. Jerry’s part was sandwiched between Figgy’s and Leo Romero. Stay Gold won best video at the 2011 Transworld Awards. Jerry recently released his second Emerica pro shoe, the HSU 2. For a review, check out RippedLaces.
On September 26, 2013; Thrasher posted this photo with the caption, Jerry Hsu off Enjoi.
Many speculated where Jerry would end up. With the launch of numerous new board companies, some assumed he would end up on Brian Anderson’s 3D Skateboards or AVE/Dill’s company, Fucking Awesome. However, Jerry would do no such thing. Instead, Jerry linked up with his long-time friend Marc Johnson and joined Chocolate Skateboards. The video, put out by Crailtap, shows current Chocolate riders Stevie Perez, Chris Roberts, Marc, Elijah Berle and Mike Carroll discussing who to add to the team, citing all things that Jerry has done/is doing. Jerry then appears at the table as a waiter, followed by a welcome screen.
I am beyond stoked that Jerry is now a member of the Girl/Chocolate family. Jerry is a great addition to the team. Hopefully Jerry will have a part in the rumored Chocolate video that is coming out sometime next year. We will have to wait and see.
I hope you enjoyed this brief chronicle of Jerry.
side note: if you ever want to learn the history of brands through ads or video parts, check out skately.com. Some pictures were taken from there and I wanted to give respect to a bonafide skateboarding encyclopedia.